The East African - - OPINION - ELSIE EYAKUZE

It has to start from the ground up, says Elsie Eyakuze.

You know, some­times peo­ple make you catch dreams. I was mind­ing my busi­ness, go­ing about the daily work of be­ing a pro­fes­sion­ally dis­sat­is­fied critic of ev­ery­thing. And can I just re­claim that word: Critic and crit­i­cal are good pos­i­tive im­pulses. They are the fire that boils the wa­ter in which our com­mu­nal ugali is cooked. When we eat com­mu­nally, we need the wags to joke and re­mind those with big hands not to take such large hand­fuls that the chil­dren must sleep hungry af­ter­wards. Mhhh.

So any­ways there I was be­ing pro­fes­sion­ally dis­sat­is­fied when I stum­bled across our min­is­ter (deputy min­is­ter?) Jan­uary Makamba do­ing an event for the World En­vi­ron­ment Week that has just ended. Deeply crusted with cyn­i­cal dis­re­gard, it ac­tu­ally took me two tries to even watch this green mar­ket­ing ef­fort but then I did. And it hit hard.

I am a re­source... not quite na­tion­al­ist but per­haps African­ist. And all this end­less talk by Pow­er­ful Men Who Will Not Re­tire bores me on a re­gional level. Ev­ery­thing beau­ti­ful ends up be­ing shoved into the ghetto of ex­ploita­tion. On the one hand, we sing to cat­tle and on the other we over­graze. We love our wildlife but then we hunt them to ex­tinc­tion. On the one hand, we are pris­tine and on the other we want to build up Stiegler’s Gorge to al­le­vi­ate the en­ergy de­mands that fill Dar es Salaam air with the pol­lu­tion of sev­eral mil­lion char­coal cook­ing stoves.

This is not the fu­ture I signed up for and there is no rea­son to hide that from my el­ders. But there was Makamba hold­ing up a kid to em­pha­sise that while he is his 40s now, the job he has is to make sure she grows up to some­thing worth liv­ing in.

It made me think of all the good sto­ries I come across that I have been lax in pro­mot­ing. Like the ve­gan ath­letes, and interesting tech happenings in ru­ral ar­eas rang­ing from pneu­mo­nia sniff­ing rats to lo­cal electric cars. You know, some­times peo­ple make you catch dreams?

So what if this was not the fu­ture I signed up for? We are all and al­ways bor­row­ing from two sources: This earth of ours and our chil­dren’s fu­ture. There was noth­ing re­mark­able about a politi­cian us­ing a child and a photo op to em­pha­sise his com­mit­ment to his coun­try ex­cept for that one re­minder to all of us.

So this kid has a good 20 years ahead of her, if the Gods are kind, to build her life and pass it on. What will she find when she gets there? This is not the fu­ture that I signed up for but... maybe it is worth sign­ing up for hers.

It is easy to brand and pay lip ser­vice to the very many days we ob­serve. Pick a dis­ease, a cause, a so­cial in­jus­tice. But I can’t help the thought that at the end of the day it comes down to af­firm­ing life... from lit­er­ally the ground up.

I know we are a rapidly grow­ing coun­try. I know we need more of ev­ery­thing. But if we do it rapidly, cyn­i­cally, and im­pe­ri­ously, we will not have enough left over to breed pneu­mo­nia rats and home­grown en­gi­neers.

I just have a girl in mind who will def­i­nitely for­get the day she and her en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter in­spired some­one to grind on be­cause the fu­ture is al­ways worth saving. Es­pe­cially when it isn’t the one you signed up for.

Crit­i­cism is a good pos­i­tive im­pulses. It is the fire that boils the wa­ter in which our com­mu­nal ugali is cooked

Elsie Eyakuze is a con­sul­tant and blog­ger for The Mikocheni Re­port. Email:

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